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If you are a student getting ready for college, or a parent helping their child prepare for school, your mind is probably full of things you need to get done before the school year starts. Registering for classes, signing up for a meal plan and dorm room, buying books, and of course paying for tuition. The list of financial expenses is already a mile long in your mind, so the last thing you want to do is add any additional expenses to that list.
However, if you or your student is about to head off to college, it's time to start thinking about their health. Not just the freshman 15 or excessive drinking, but health coverage in general. Health insurance is vital for students, especially when out of state for school. Who's going to be your primary care physician? How do you stay in-network if they are in a different state?
Before you begin to freak out, there are plenty of health insurance options for students.
Insurance Through Your College
Colleges often times work with health insurance companies to provide affordable health insurance for college students. They understand that budgets will be tight, so subsidized plans are usually provided. However, you want to make sure that your school's health insurance plan is a qualified health plan and not bare bones. While most school's will make sure their students are sufficiently covered, some may not provide adequate coverage which could leave you picking up hefty bills for visits to the doctor or hospital. Learn what a qualified health plan is.
Stay on Your Parent's Plan
Under the Affordable Care Act, children are allowed to stay on their parent's health insurance plans until their 26th birthday. This is great news for you if your family has a health insurance plan with an extensive network. You do want to make sure that your parent's plan provides coverage out of state though. Also, if it is an HMO plan, you'll most likely need to begin your search for a new primary care physician.
The health insurance marketplace is also a great service if you are looking for affordable health coverage. For one, they have free navigators who will help you find the plan that best fits your needs. The health insurance marketplace also offers very inexpensive coverage known as Catastrophic Health Insurance. Catastrophic plans were designed for young people, and are available to people under 30 years old who are healthy.
Subsidized Health Coverage
If you or your child is a full-time student, then income is probably low, which means you can qualify for a health insurance subsidy. Health insurance subsidies are provided by the government and can end up giving you health insurance for little to no cost. Whether it's an Advanced Premium Tax Credit that lowers. your monthly premium, a Cost Share Reduction which lowers your out-of-pocket costs, or Medicaid which provides health coverage at no cost, it's important to explore your options.
Private Health Insurance
Another great way to find affordable health insurance is through the private sector. If you're young and healthy, you may be eligible for heavily discounted health insurance plans. Online review and comparison sites like First Quote Health have made shopping for a plan easier than ever by instantly letting you choose from quotes instantly. Talk to an agent or broker to start your search today.
Going Without Coverage
If all other options are out of the question, your last resort is to not enroll in a health insurance plan, although it's not recommended. Not purchasing health insurance is a gamble, and unforeseen medical expenses can severely impact your long-term financial plans. Also, if you are not eligible for a tax exemption, you can end up paying more in penalties than health insurance would have cost you.